As we previously reported, the New York City Council recently passed the Fair Chance Act (Intro No. 318-A, 2014) that—among other requirements—prevents employers from inquiring about job applicants’ criminal arrests and convictions prior to hire. As expected, on June 29, 2015, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio signed the legislation, meaning that the law will be effective as of October 27, 2015. At a signing ceremony, Mayor de Blasio stated that the new law “will open the door to jobs to New Yorkers who have paid their debt to society rather than condemning them to constant economic struggle.”
New York City employers are strongly encouraged to ensure compliance with the new criminal background check law prior to its effective date on October 27, 2015. Employers also are strongly encouraged to ensure compliance with New York City’s new law prohibiting the use of credit history checks, which will become effective on September 3, 2015. As we have noted, both of these background checks are incorporated under the New York City Human Rights Law, which means employers that violate these laws may be liable for compensatory damages (including back pay, front pay, and emotional distress), uncapped punitive damages, attorneys’ fees, and potential class litigation.
We will continue to monitor these laws regarding any guidance from the New York City Commission on Human Rights.
The New York City Fair Chance Act and the “ban the box” laws in other jurisdictions, including all federal and state background check requirements, are summarized in the firm’s O-D Comply: Background Checks and O-D Comply: Employment Applications subscription materials, which are updated and provided to O-D Comply subscribers as the law changes.
Talya Scolnik is a law student, currently participating in the summer associate program in the New York City office of Ogletree Deakins.